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What Is Negligence?

Negligence is a word we use all the time. It’s a word that personal injury claims are based on. But what is negligence? What does it mean?

What Does Negligence Mean?

In many cases, it is common to look at a situation and say “that looks like negligence”, but what does that really mean? We know that negligence is defined as a failure to take proper care, but it is important to note how this definition relates to law. Negligence is defined as “the failure to take reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.”

Financial Responsibility

In many situations, there is a negligent party. As defined, the negligent party has failed to take proper care when a duty of care has been assumed. Determining who is at fault also helps determine who is financially responsible for an injury.

Negligence Lawsuits

It is important to know what is defined as negligence so you don’t find yourself in a situation where you act negligently, and so you can protect yourself when someone else’s negligence has negatively impacted you. The law allows those harmed by negligence to file a lawsuit to make them whole again.

As an injury law firm, we commonly see negligence lawsuits in the form of car accident claims or slip and fall claims. But, negligence lawsuits come in many forms. If you believe negligence caused your injury, talk to an injury lawyer for free.

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Proving Negligence 

What is negligence, and what does it take to prove negligence? Proving negligence is essential in many lawsuits. Understanding what it takes to prove negligence will help you understand what negligence really is. Four primary factors will prove whether or not a party was negligent. 

Duty Of Care

The defendant owed the plaintiff a certain level of reasonable care. This is called the “duty of care.” There are certain factors that would lead the defendant to owe the plaintiff a level of reasonable care.

EXAMPLE: If you host a party on your property, you owe your guests a level of reasonable care that your property is in safe condition that will not result in injury.

Breach In The Duty Of Care

The defendant breached the duty of care that is owed to the plaintiff by failing to act a certain way. The court needs to prove that the defendant failed to act in a way that any reasonable and sound of mind person would act.

EXAMPLE: A broken bottle spreads liquid on the floor at a grocery store. The store doesn’t have an action plan in place to make sure floors are checked regularly for spills. A shopper slips on the wet spot and falls hard, hurting themselves. In this example, the store has a duty to provide a safe shopping experience. Yet, the store fails to do so when staff doesn’t regularly check and clean floor hazards.

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Causation shows the relationship between one thing and another. In an injury claim, the plaintiff must show their injury was the direct result of the defendant’s negligence. It’s not enough that the defendant is negligent. The negligence must be what causes the injury.

Example of Causation

If someone walks on an icy sidewalk and slips, we have causation. The ice is slippery and causes the person to slip. If we can prove there is a duty of care for the property owner to clear the ice AND the property owner breached that duty in care, we need to prove one more thing.


Finally, we need to prove damages. It’s not enough that the defendant’s negligence caused something bad to happen. We need to be able to show some sort of financial damage. Some examples of financial damages would include actual medical expenses, loss of income, or a permanent injury. 

If all four of these statements are proven to be true, the defendant can be held financially responsible for their negligence.

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Negligence In Personal Injury Claims

Proving negligence is very important in every personal injury case. However, proving negligence alone does not always make a case strong enough to bring in a successful claim. Negligence determines which party is liable in the case. In addition to proving negligence, you also need to prove actual harm and damages. Negligence is proving liability, and damages will prove that harm actually occurred. If your case sustains that the defendant was negligent and also caused harm, you are likely to be compensated for your injury, pain, and suffering. 

Talk To An Injury Lawyer For Free

Every personal injury case is different and unique. It is very important to have a skilled lawyer on your side. At Haggerty and Silverman, we help injured people in Pennsylvania. We will fight to get you the money you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.